When moving into indirect sales, one mistake we see often is trying to recruit partners without a strategy behind their actions. Accepting anyone you make contact with will help an ecosystem grow in the short-term, but in the long-term it’s problematic. Poor partner choices early on can easily cause a vendor to fall into the “sub-optimized” phase of channel development.
A stable ecosystem with predictable growth and good long-term viability is one with a controlled influx of partners, picked strategically so that their strengths, market, and corporate values match those of the vendor. That’s what makes the difference between a true sales partner which provides long-term value, and a mere sales channel.
To expand your list of partners, you need a strategy. Here are some things to consider:
1. Define your market as precisely as possible.
In most areas of business today, specialization is a good idea. It’s easier to sell your products and provide a clear value proposition when you have a narrow, well-defined target market. So, step one is defining your ideal customers, then looking for partners who already target that market.
The more closely your target market and their existing market aligns, the better it will work out for both you and them. You might even discover that you’re filling a niche in their sales catalog they were looking to fill!
2. Expand your geographic reach in a controlled fashion.
A big benefit of an indirect-sales operation is that it can allow you to quickly expand your geographic reach. However, this can also lead to over-extension. Always think about logistical matters. You want your partners spread far enough apart that they don’t create large amounts of channel conflict, but don’t just plant flags in the ground hither and thither for the sake of grabbing territory. You want to be certain you can maintain your support and relationships with all your partners, no matter where they are.
Some strategic planning and real thought about “which geographic areas do we want to expand into, and when?” can give you a lot of guidance when targeting new partners for recruitment.
3. Do more networking.
Make contacts at trade shows. Develop your social connections via networks like LinkedIn and Facebook. Talk to your existing partners about other companies they know and respect. Doing networking and research in this way will make it easier for you to survey the field, and know which prospects are the best prospects to target.
Also, this goes both ways. Having contacts in common will usually boost your reputation in their eyes as well, making it more likely they’ll sign up.
4. Research every partner yourself.
Finally, don’t simply take a potential partner’s word about their values, capacity, commitment to customer service, or other factors. There’s a big Internet full of information out there! Look them up for yourself, as though you were a customer considering doing business with them. Do they look like the sort of company you’d trust as a buyer, with strong reviews and substantive recommendations? If not, they probably aren’t a company you should trust as a vendor either.
Tie Your Ecosystem Together With Partner Relationship Management Software
PRM is the world’s cutting-edge tool for making a cohesive partner network that’s tightly tied-together, with simple day-to-day business procedures. Having PRM is a great recruitment talking point, as well as helping optimize every aspect of your business.